Well, life continues even if you don't blog. Here's the update: The crazy, high stress, long hours job I obliquely referred to the last time I posted lo six months ago was being a New York City rental real estate broker. Um, I'm not one anymore. It turns out that even if you get totally obsessed with it and work 7 days a week, 10-12 hours a day doing everything you're told will further your career you still don't necessarily succeed. Who knew?
I've been out of the real estate hustle for about a month now and the time has been pretty much filled with copious amounts of television viewing, with some wine drinking and nice home cooked meals thrown in for good measure. Times is tough. With both me and Kim not really working full-time simultaneously since August of 2004 we're really starting to feel the crunch. We had to cancel both HBO and Netflix. I don't know which hurt more. This is a particularly sad state of affairs when you don't have the money to go out and a bottle of pinot, some chips and hummus, and a night of HBO/Netflix is the most exciting thing you have to look forward to. I can't explain my disappointment at not getting to watch the first new season of The Sopranos in five years or whatever. Why am I so upset? It's not even like I'm a huge fan of the show, which I've always thought is way overrated and which has gone way downhill even on those terms. It's at not being part of the whole pop cultural conversation. I hate being unaware of anything pop cultural. It makes me feel disconnected from my own country. That's why I can't fathom people who don't know who major actors, singers etc. are.
Actually, to me Big Love looks like the much more interesting show. And, on the level of purely of artistic merit, I'm much more disappointed to be missing it. I wanted a friend to start watching it for me so I could live vicariously through her, but it turned out that polygamy disturbs and disgusts her more than anything else in the world, so she couldn't even watch it.
In fact, the Netflix wasn't completely cancelled but it restarts this month. It seemed cheaper to just turn it off for a few months than to completely stop it and pay fees for restarting. To give you an idea where my life's at spending yesterday updating my queue was one of the most exciting days I can remember in a long time. I forgot to mention that I've seen nothing in the theater for the last six months to a year because of the lack of money.
The very first film I wanted to see was The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I grew up on those books. They didn't convert me to Christianity like I guess they were supposed to, but they were the predominant adventure/fantasy series of my life. In fact, I didn't get into Tolkien until after the movies came out. Then, I finally read the trilogy as an adult and was of course blown away. I'd be hard pressed to say which series is better now. I love them both, but it means more to me to see an attempt at real high-budget film series of Narnia because those books meant so much to me as a kid. To not have seen the primary adventure series of my life turned into a movie on the big screen still really bums me out, but this will have to do.
Next, I went for King Kong. You see, it's all about catching up on the big movies (not films, in these cases), the pop cultural artifacts which form the national conversation, which make you less American if you've missed them. The conventional wisdom on this third version of King Kong was that it was too long. It's even better if you say that the original 1933 version was a true classic, meaning of course that it's really old. Well, King Kong 1 was too short. It was barely 80 minutes long if that. Sketchy and way too quick. I'm so certain of Peter Jackson's filmmaking brilliance that I'm willing to say that the people who bought in to the easy joke that this one was too long were the same philistines who thought Return of the King was too long, when in fact it was just barely as long as it needed to be in order to be remotely faithful to the source material. I'm certain that King Kong 3 was amazing, the primitive vision of the first one wedded to filmmaking techniques and directorial ability which can truly make that vision come alive.
Then I went straight to Brokeback Mountain. At this point I started thinking about my last six months or so of being totally unaware of news, blogs, etc. How there must have been all these debates about these films carried on on blogs that I was blissfully unaware of, debates where everyone predictably played their tired roles and fit the films into their tired preconceptions and political cultural biases. I was still following stuff when Lion was about to come out. What I remember then was that more liberal critics were savaging Lewis for being so Christian and saying the explicit Christian content was a weakness of the books and the film. In turn, Christian right types, like Ross Douthat, were essentially saying the film was only worthwhile if you viewed it as a Christian allegory. I'm assuming that's how the debate continued to play out.
King Kong didn't have much of a political angle, but I'm assuming amongst film critics and the public at large it had the predictable comments of: 1)The first one was so much better and 2) It was too long and that was pretty much how the movie settled into the national consciousness.
With Brokeback what more do I need to say. You probably had the social conservatives saying that it was nothing more than another insidious attempt by liberal Hollywood to cram the gay agenda down our throats. Meanwhile, I'm sure liberal critics pretty much thought that anyone who didn't think the film was great (which for all I know it was) was a homophobe. Actual discussions of the film as film were probably few and far between. I remember seeing somewhere that someone wrote that it wasn't a great love story as everyone else was saying, because it was depressing and the relationship between the two men was destructive, which seemed kind of weird to me seeing as how true love is seldom pretty and often destructive.
I then went on to Walk the Line, probably not much annoying axe-grinding there. Then I went indie with Coffee and Cigarettes, not really part of the big national conversation. From there it was Jarhead. I'm assuming the right wing blogosphere didn't like that if there was the slightest hint that it was a trifle ambivalent about war. There was probably also a lot of confusion of the war depicted in the film with the current one. The liberal critics probably played their part by just assuming it was a hard-hitting critique of the current war.
Did I miss anything? Did this pretty much describe exactly the media and blogosphere reaction to these films?
The rest of my queue went as follows: Everything is Illluminated, Gunner Palace, Hustle & Flow, Me and You and Everyone We Know, Ray, Capote, The Squid and the Whale, Match Point, A Love Song for Bobby Long, March of the Penguins (Right: "A rare film that acknowledges the existence of a higher power. Penguins mate for life so it shows the need for a Federal Marriage Amendment". Left: "Some penguins are gay you idiot!" Am I right?) Murderball, The Aristocrats, Broken Flowers, Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Morvern Callar, War of the Worlds, Grizzly Man, Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic, Howl's Moving Castle, Memoirs of a Geisha, and Domino.